Butler County hires new administrator for financially struggling nursing home

New Butler County Care Facility Administrator Chamika Poole

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New Butler County Care Facility Administrator Chamika Poole

The Butler County commissioners have hired a new administrator for the Care Facility, despite the dissent of one commissioner.

Chamika Poole will earn $89,833 annually, and she starts Sept. 23. County Administrator Judi Boyko said Poole is highly qualified for the post.

“She comes to this position with a wealth of experience and I believe knowledge, education and licensure,” she said.

Poole has a Master of Science degree in health administration and a bachelor’s in biology, is a registered nurse and a certified nursing home administrator.

“I work really hard and my passion has always been in long-term care, to make nursing homes in general a better place,” she said. “All I can promise right now it to give it my all and make sure I’m focusing on doing what’s right and making a positive impact on my residents.”

RELATED: Butler County-run nursing home, which has struggled financially, needs new administrator

Commissioner Cindy Carpenter said no when the commissioners recently voted on the new hire.

“I was looking for someone with more experience,” she told the Journal-News, adding she wished the county had received more applications for the position. “I wasn’t convinced she would be the best candidate.”

Human Resources Director Laurie Murphy said the county received 48 applications but only three people had the right qualifications for the job.

Poole has not worked in the public sector yet but has held several management level positions in the private side of the industry. The biggest problem for the home financially has been the fact every changing Medicaid rates and regulations have negatively affect the bottom line.

Boyko said while Poole might not have extensive experience dealing with Medicaid, others do.

“The county Care Facility employs several positions who are directly responsible for and knowledgeable in the complexities of federal programs and their reimbursement, including Medicaid and Medicare,” Boyko said. “It is more practical and necessary for these positions to be specialists in that arena. Mrs. Poole has experience in other forms of reimbursable payments which skills are transferable.”

The county nursing home has struggled financially for years. Commissioners authorized a $350,000 payment to the nursing home in December, and it also received a $100,000 payment from the general fund in October. The payments helped cover a $242,000 deficit at the facility.

Two years ago, the facility needed a $425,000 subsidy, and in 2016 the commissioners had to loan it $225,000 so payroll could be met through the end of the year. At one time, the county nursing home owed the general fund $1.1 million, a debt the home partially repaid.

Poole said she needs to get to work at the facility before she can make any improvements that might better the bottom line.

Commissioner T.C. Rogers said he is confident they made a great choice in Poole.

“You want somebody in a management position who is able to one have a somewhat certain expertise but also how they are able to address and solve problems and also manage procedures,” Rogers said. “We think she is very intelligent and can adapt and learn quickly.”

Poole replaces former administrator Jennifer Strickland who left in May. The county has had an interim company, Professional Review Network, Inc. running things since then. Boyko said PRN will stay at the nursing home through November when the $40,800 contract expires, to help transition Poole and will also work on some coding and billing changes the Department of Health and Human Services is instituting.

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